We are just three months away from Movement Festival 2020 and the full lineup has finally been announced. With artists like Adam Beyer, ANNA, and Testpilot gracing Detroit with their presence on September 11,12, and 13th, Techno enthusiasts are not going to want to miss out on the festival’s 20th year.
Like all festivals, Movement is as much about the people as it is about music. One attendee who has become a mainstay of Movement since 2005 is a 78-year-old photographer, Patricia Lay-Dorsey, known by festivalgoers as “Grandma Techno.”
Lay-Dorsey was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis when she was 45. In 2000, the problem worsened and she had to start relying on a motorized scooter to get around. For some, this type of restricted mobility might have stopped them from attending and enjoying music festivals on a regular basis, but not Grandma Techno.
Going to local festivals with friends had long been a hobby of Lay-Dorsey’s, but the Electronic Dance Music scene was completely foreign to her. Always open to new adventures, she and a few friends decided to give Movement a try. It didn’t take long before she fell in love with Techno. “We went into Hart Plaza and it was so loud! Not just by the stages, but everywhere we went. I didn’t know electronic music at all, but I adored it once I discovered it,” she told Vice.
As we left I remember someone was doing a survey out front and they asked, ‘do you like House or Techno better?’ I didn’t know what they were talking about, but I tried to act like I did so I said Techno! Now there’s Dub, Trance, and such. I was so clueless! I never miss a beat now.Grandma Techno
Grandma Techno earned her endearing nickname one year when she asked Movement-goers to help her find her way to the Beatport stage. As the crowd parted like the Red Sea to help her make her way through the hordes of people, one man began chanting, “Grandma Techno! Grandma Techno! Grandma Techno!” Others soon joined him. The nickname stuck and Lay-Dorsey has been an integral part of the Movement ever since. In 2015, Humans of New York featured her story on Facebook, elevating Grandma Techno’s profile in the scene.
A Techno festival might not seem like an ideal place for someone confined to a scooter, but Movement has gone out of its way to make sure Lay-Dorsey has the proper accommodations. Grandma Techno always has a special viewing spot near the front of each stage. Festival attendees have also gone above and beyond to make sure she doesn’t miss out on the dancing. “They help lift me out of my seat so I can stand to dance – while holding tight to my scooter handle or the barricade – and boogie down beside me, grinning from ear-to-ear,” Lay-Dorsey said.
Grandma Techno serves as a reminder that every single person, regardless of age, deserves a chance to experience the magic of music festivals. “I don’t want an area in the back. We want to party too,” she expressed.
Not only has Lay-Dorsey become a role model for those who struggle with mobility and other disabilities, but she’s also bridging generational divides. Movement is mostly comprised of young people, but Lay-Dorsey says she has noticed a rise in older attendees since her story went viral.
For Grandma Techno, and perhaps other attendees her age, the spirit of Movement is reminiscent of their younger years. “I love the energy most, it feels like the 1960s – ‘Peace and Love’ and all of that, which I have since discovered is more or less the ethos of electronic music.”
Last year, Grandma Techno teamed up with Movement to release the book “They Call Me Grandma Techno.” The book uses Lay-Dorsey’s photos to tell the story of Movement through the years. Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign started by Lay-Dorsey and a few other groups, all publishing costs were covered by fans who were eager to see Grandma Techno’s photographs come to life in print.
What you will see in this book is a selection of photos I have taken every Memorial Day weekend from 2007-2018 at our annual Movement Detroit electronic music festival on Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit. If you already love electronic music, I hope you hear the ‘thump thump’ of the beat and feel the high energy of the scene as you turn these pages. If you are new to this music or have even been turned off by it in the past, I hope you catch a taste of the love and bliss that permeate this world and make us feel we are one.Grandma Techno
Don’t miss your chance to dance with the one and only Grandma Techno and experience Movement for yourself this year.
*Featured Image of Grandma Techno Via Trillvo*